Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network

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1 Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network System Economic Evaluation of Development Options Summary Report Study commissioned by Alstom and SNCF Paris / Hamburg, December 2013

2 Executive Summary European policymakers are committed to expansion of the European high speed rail network in order to improve mobility and connectivity. Exactly how the European rail network is to be expanded remains unclear. Potential options include (i) new very high speed rail lines (VHS) with design speeds at or above 300 km/h, (ii) new medium high speed rail lines (MHS) with design speeds at km/h, or (iii) upgrades of conventional lines (CUP) typically at km/h. This document uses a high-level system economic analysis to assess the options and identify patterns where each option is preferable. This full system economic analysis includes railway system costs as well as commercial and wider socioeconomic benefits. System costs consist of infrastructure costs, which are typically dominant, and train operators costs. System benefits consist of commercial revenues, user benefits through travel time gains and wider socioeconomic benefits. The benefits generated in this analysis are fundamentally driven by passenger demand. The passenger volume observed on existing European rail corridors ranges significantly from as little as 3 million to as many as 39 million passengers per year. A larger passenger market size at the origin, destination and key intermediate stops permits an attractive frequency of train services and is a prerequisite to justify the construction of expensive infrastructure. For all potential investment options, these markets must have a large and dense enough population and economic base to boost travel demand. The widespread belief that train operators costs for higher speed options are higher is inaccurate. In fact, on corridors suitable for very high speed travel, operations costs of modern and purpose-built trainsets are lowest at design speeds between 250 km/h and 300 km/h and only gradually increase at speeds beyond 300 km/h. This is primarily a result of the higher train mileage covered by faster trains in the same amount of time. As a result, labour costs and rolling stock capital costs decrease with higher speeds. These costs are then counterbalanced by the cost of increasing energy consumption at very high speeds. The design speed of lines is only one of many parameters that impacts infrastructure costs. Infrastructure, which includes track, civil structures, signalling/train control, electrification and all other related assets, typically represents the dominant cost component of all new rail systems, regardless of whether the system is very high speed or lower. Important infrastructure cost drivers are (i) Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: i

3 the degree of required civil structures along the line, (ii) where applicable, the additional cost needed to accommodate a mix of both high speed trains and slower, heavier trains such as freight trains and (iii) massive surcharges to build or refurbish any new line in a densely populated urban area. As a consequence, infrastructure costs, whether for new or upgraded lines, depend strongly on the specific corridor characteristics and the operational strategy of the railway. Therefore, in all options, infrastructure costs can vary substantially. The cost ranges overlap and are not only a function of speed. Commercial revenues are generally a direct function of passenger demand. Studies measuring the demand elasticity of higher speed rail systems show that the competitiveness of high speed rail compared against other modes is highest at distances between 300 km and 800 km, which in other words is where the highest elasticities of demand are observed. At shorter distances, effective travel time gains are perceived as less relevant by the passenger. At longer distances, air travel tends to maintain its competitive advantage. The driver for travel time gains is effective speed, not design speed. The ratio of effective speed to design speed ( speed yield ) differs widely for existing European corridors. The investment for very high speed is only justified if high speed yields can be achieved. In corridors with high travel time elasticity, the business case for higher and very high speed options can be made, because the increased demand from markets with sizeable passenger volumes translates into higher revenues. Additionally, the potential to charge a price premium for higher speed services (and ideally high quality branded products such as the AVE, Eurostar, ICE, TGV, Thalys and others) can be used to increase revenues further. User benefits, specifically passenger travel time savings, are a major noncommercial but socioeconomic benefit. Effective travel time savings and passenger volumes translate directly into user benefits. In effect, user benefits are broadly proportional to demand and speed gains when compared to competing modes. External costs (emissions, land use, safety risks) of all transport modes are significant. Differences between external costs of competing modes can be considered as relative external benefits. Rail has external cost advantages over air and still more so over road transportation. The external cost differences between the options are relatively small, however, compared to commercial revenues and user benefits. Still, a shift from road and air to rail reduces overall external costs for the corridor and thus generates external benefits. In many Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: ii

4 cases, however, higher speed rail not only shifts traffic but induces new demand which comes with higher external cost to the rail mode. The choice of developing a corridor with very high speed rail, medium high speed rail or a conventional upgrade depends on a complex array of operational, infrastructural and market parameters. In healthy demand and elasticity scenarios, very high speed is often the superior option while in other scenarios a conventional upgrade may have a better benefit-cost ratio. In favourable scenarios, e.g. those with high demand and elasticity, benefit-cost ratios can be as high as 2,0 to 3,0. In more modest demand and elasticity scenarios, very high speed and conventional upgrade benefit-cost ratios tend to be similar but with proportionally lower absolute values. The medium high speed option, in contrast, often has a lower benefit-cost ratio since infrastructure costs are approximately the same as for very high speed while the demand is lower. Because of the complex array of parameters, each potential rail corridor must be analysed individually to assess which option is optimal. As already mentioned, favourable conditions for very high speed exist in scenarios with healthy passenger demand, high speed yield and strong demand elasticity. Such corridors are particularly suitable for very high speed when longer stretches of uninterrupted travel at consistent speeds (i.e. high speed yield) can be assured. Very high speed can then make up for potentially higher infrastructure costs through substantially higher user benefits and commercial revenues. Very high speed is preferable over conventional upgrades when the gap between very high speed and conventional upgrade infrastructure costs is relatively low. Finally, if capacity constraints are an issue, very high speed has the best ability to help alleviate future congestion. Increased effective speed and shortened cycle time of trains result in increased network capacity. On congested networks, the construction of a new corridor also frees up conventional lines for other uses. Construction of a medium high speed system with design speeds of km/h is often not an optimal choice from a benefit-cost perspective. In a few exceptional cases where specific alignment constraints could make very high speed infrastructure more expensive than medium high speed infrastructure, this option may be preferable. In networks with foreseeable and sustained growth rates, very high speed systems offer higher capacity reserves for the future than lower speed options can. These factors can make a very high speed option the better long-term choice even if lower speed options would be sufficient to accommodate the traffic in the short to medium term. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: iii

5 Upgrading conventional lines to speeds of km/h makes sense in a variety of scenarios. One of the most attractive reasons for upgrading is the potentially relatively low additional cost of infrastructure required compared to the construction of a new line. However, in practice, upgrading expenditures can sometimes exceed normal levels by far, nearing costs of higher speed options. This can happen when upgrading takes place in densely populated urban areas or when more fundamental changes in the alignment and equipment of a corridor are required. In terms of benefits, time savings and additional revenues can be generated in cases where the upgrading already represents a substantial leap forward compared to the previous railway offering. A conventional upgrade has less potential to achieve demand that higher speed rail could generate. However, in situations where very or medium high speed rail designs cannot deliver superior speed yields, conventional upgrades are fit for purpose and capable of achieving better benefit-cost ratios. European policymakers have prioritised a number of corridors for further development of the European high speed rail network. Within a subset of this portfolio, a number of corridors have the necessary characteristics that make them candidates for very high speed rail. The candidate corridors within this subset selected for additional analysis are: Amsterdam Berlin Warsaw Riga Warsaw For both corridors, the benefit-cost ratio is comparatively high for the conventional upgrade and very high speed rail. Between these two options, the ratio is slightly higher for the conventional upgrade, yet in terms of the absolute surplus benefit, very high speed rail is the better choice for both corridors and is particularly large compared to an upgrade on the Amsterdam - Warsaw corridor. This report represents a strategic analysis to examine the benefits and costs of very high speed rail, medium high speed rail, and conventional upgrades. Further corridor-specific assessment by the member states and railway administrations is needed to study benefits and costs more thoroughly before making a final decision on the optimal speed option for an actual corridor. As the process of integrating Europe through higher speed rail moves forward and decisions about speed options need to be made, this document can be used to help guide corridor-specific analyses. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: iv

6 Table of Contents Executive Summary i 1. Introduction 1 2. European High Speed Rail Context 3 3. General System Economic Analysis Overview Higher Speed Options Full System Economic Account Principal Benefit and Cost Constituents Results and Sensitivity Analysis Results and Sensitivity Analysis Future Higher Speed Corridors in Europe Broad Assessment of Candidate Corridors System Economic Model Application Top Sample Summary and Conclusions 33 Glossary G-1 References R-1 Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: v

7 1. Introduction European policymakers are committed to expansion of the European high speed rail network in order to improve mobility and connectivity. Exactly how the European rail network is to be expanded remains unclear. Potential options include (i) new very high speed rail lines (VHS) with design speeds at or above 300 km/h, (ii) new medium high speed rail lines (MHS) with design speeds at km/h, or (iii) upgrades of conventional lines (CUP) typically at km/h. This document uses a high-level system economic analysis to assess the options and identify patterns where each option is preferable. This full system economic analysis includes railway system costs as well as commercial and wider socioeconomic benefits. System costs consist of infrastructure costs, which are typically dominant, and train operators costs. System benefits consist of commercial revenues, user benefits through travel time gains and wider socioeconomic benefits. Chapter 2 sets the framework by describing the European policy context and the stated intent of the European Commission to further develop the high-speed rail network over the next one or two decades. Chapter 3 describes the three pillars for the analysis. The first pillar of the analysis includes the foundation and characteristics of the model. The second pillar includes the modelling of a variety of "real life" scenarios under typical European rail circumstances. The third pillar applies the analytical framework to assess potential future corridors. Chapter 3 describes the system economic analysis and is the heart of the scenario analysis. Within this chapter, the report provides a profile of key characteristics for the three principal rail development options and describes the overall logic of the system economic model. It will also include the model components and specifications. The system economic analysis is conducted to model a variety of "real life" scenarios under typical European rail circumstances. A systematic sensitivity analysis of such scenarios is performed to provide detailed comparisons of how the benefits and costs behave under each circumstance, and how the inputs affect the overall results. All input data to the modelling are based on empirical research for existing conventional and high speed railway systems in Europe. Standard input data are used as a starting point to gauge the model; sensitivity analysis is then undertaken to model and understand the impact of varying input parameters within realistic European ranges. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 1

8 The model itself is capable of handling a range of given configurations and respective system parameters. It is generic enough to be used in future studies to carry out high level assessments of corridors under discussion. Based on this systematic scenario analysis, the results and sensitivity analysis provides strategic conclusions on the economic justification of investments in higher speed options and shows how choosing between rail development options is situation-dependent. Chapter 4 of this document applies the model to assess potential future higher speed corridors. It applies the options of very high speed rail, high speed rail, and conventional upgrade to proposed high speed rail corridors in Europe that have been discussed as candidate corridors or could be eligible for investment. From a large sample of candidate corridors, two are chosen and analysed using the model analysis framework, then interpreted and proposed for further consideration. Finally, Chapter 5 provides a summary and conclusions related to analysis findings. Detailed background information is available regarding the topics highlighted in this report. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 2

9 2. European High Speed Rail Context The European Commission (EC) has far-reaching ambitions for the development of the European high speed rail network. As stated in its 2011 White Paper, the European Commission envisages a tripling of the line-kilometers in the current system by 2030 and a completion of a coherent high speed rail network by The vision of a coherent network includes links and accessibility between all major cities and core network airports. The policy for a European-wide high speed rail network calls for the majority of all medium-distance intercity passenger traffic to move by rail as compared to other modes such as on road or by air. Additionally, the policy calls for 50 % of all freight to shift over to non-road corridors by 2050 in Europe, which has network capacity implications. A shift to rail for passenger and freight traffic is intended to support the transportation sector in achieving a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 60 % between 1990 and A few determined governments started on the development of European high speed rail corridors starting in the 1990s, with the movement gaining momentum since. However, in order to develop a complete and coherent rail network, significant gaps will need to be filled. Since 1990, the total length of high speed lines (those with speeds above 200 km/h) has increased seven-fold to an order of kilometres. Between 2006 and 2011, approximately 320 kilometres of lines were built annually in Europe. Thousands of line-km > 2020 Source: For datapoints , EU transport in figures statistical pocketbook For datapoints 2015 and up, European Commission, "High Speed Rail An Easy Way to Connect", Figure 1: Planned European High Speed Rail Network by 2020, Design Speeds 250 km/h Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 3

10 In order to meet current plans ( kilometres by 2020 and kilometres beyond 2020), approximately 800 to 1000 kilometres of lines with design speeds of 250 km/h or higher would need to be constructed annually. France, Italy and Spain already have trunk rail networks in place that connect most major cities with 300 km/h services. In France, for example, the Mobility 21 Commission concluded that the focus of future investment here should be on maintenance and improvement of the existing network given the extensiveness of the current rail network. The commission determined that the problem in France is not gaps in rail service it is financial losses, a weak rail freight system and a lack of focus on problems confronting primary network nodes, among others. In the rest of Western Europe, however, there are still many high speed gaps that exist. In Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, the majority of lines are designed for operations at relatively low speeds. Given their travel speeds, a number of these rail corridors are comparatively unattractive compared to other modes. Given the ambitious expansion plans for the European network, the completion of the network would require an estimated investment of billion Euros at current prices. While these plans are ambitious in terms of scope and funding volume, they would also require a three-fold increase in the pace of construction, which makes achievement of the plan within the envisaged timeframe rather unlikely. Some funding, and in particular co-funding, is available through various European facilities (Cohesion Fund, Structural and Investment Fund, European Investment Bank, CEF/TEN-T funding). However, total available funds from these sources for rail transport are relatively minor when compared to the full cost of constructing the envisaged system. The decision-making for rail-corridor development mainly rests with the European member states, which have to make careful choices about where scarce funds should be invested. European stakeholders have been ambivalent when weighing the options in terms of economic benefits of railway infrastructure investments. Recently, high speed plans have faced criticism because of doubts about the value of higher speed from an economic perspective. Some countries have redirected their policy towards "modest high speed" and have instead emphasised connectivity at interchanges. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 4

11 While some rail configurations indeed may not benefit enough from higherspeed, in other cases arguments against higher speed are based on assumptions and opinions rather than analysis. In the face of policy ambitions on the one hand and funding restrictions on the other, decisions regarding new rail investments require strong economic foundations and careful analysis of choices. Ideally, throughout Europe these decisions should be based on a coherent analytical framework that gives policymakers a common platform to set priorities under the same measures. The aim of this study is to show under what circumstances the development of new VHS, MHS and CUP lines is appropriate and provides an analysis framework to select the optimal design speed on a corridor-specific level. High benefit-to-cost ratios are a prerequisite in the consideration of investments. However, when benefit-to-cost ratios are similar across different options, decision makers may select the option with the higher absolute surplus benefit (i.e. total benefit minus total cost). Additionally, decision-makers should emphasise routes that help to close gaps and complete networks. The European high speed rail experience has shown that closing network gaps can give an extra boost to network demand. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 5

12 3. General System Economic Analysis 3.1 Overview This chapter describes the system economics analysis of potential high speed rail development options and assesses a set of scenarios. It includes the three pillars of the analysis where the first pillar of the analysis includes the foundation and characteristics of the model. The second pillar includes the modelling of a variety of "real life" scenarios under typical European rail circumstances. The third pillar applies the analytical framework to assess potential future corridors. Section 3.2 provides a brief description of the technical options to develop a corridor towards higher speed. This includes options such as upgrading conventional lines as well as developing new lines with speeds above and beyond 300 km/h. Section 3.3 describes the overall philosophy and logic on the wider (i.e. socioeconomic) system analysis is described. Section 3.4 details and explains the modelling approach, the input parameters and mechanisms and interdependencies for and between all constituents of the analysis. Section 3.5 provides an overview of quantitative results, describes the logic of scenarios studied, the ranges of configurations that are covered by the sensitivity analysis, and the interpretation of results. Section 3.6 then concludes this chapter with the strategic implications regarding the choice of higher speed rail infrastructure development options. 3.2 Higher Speed Options Rail corridors most appropriate for speed enhancements include conventional "legacy" rail lines with current design speeds of km/h in Western Europe, and rail lines with significantly lower speeds in Central and Eastern Europe. There are three primary options that can be implemented to improve travel times and connectivity on a conventional (long distance) rail line. The three primary enhancement options are: The construction of a new very high speed line. Built and equipped for design speeds of 300 km/h and higher and denoted in this report as Very High Speed or "VHS", km/h, these lines are typically built as dedicated lines for high speed trainsets only. The construction of a new medium high speed line built and equipped for design speeds of km/h. In this report, this option is denoted as Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 6

13 Medium High Speed or "MHS", km/h. These lines are sometimes also built to handle both freight and passenger traffic. Topographical alignment, safety standards and train control/safety technology of MHS lines must have distinctly higher standards than CUP lines. The infrastructure standards are in fact similar to very high speed infrastructure. An upgrade and modernisation of the existing infrastructure to facilitate the line for speeds at or slightly above 200 km/h. These upgrades maintain the same topographical alignment and with similar technological equipment as the existing line. These lines are typically purpose built for mixed passenger and freight traffic. Throughout the report this option is denoted as Conventional Upgrade or "CUP", km/h. All of these configurations exist in some form in Europe. Switzerland, for instance, has decided to upgrade the majority of its network to handle speeds of 200 km/h, while other countries such as France and Spain have determinedly focused on a VHS-level system implementation. The relatively short travel distance between most station stops in Switzerland is one important reason behind this philosophy. Germany, on the other hand, has taken a mixed approach. Some lines, such as Frankfurt Cologne, have design speed sections of 300 km/h, but the majority of the long-distance network operates at speeds between 150 km/h and 250 km/h and accommodates mixed traffic. A key purpose of this rail development option study is to determine how these technical enhancement options compare under different operational and market conditions from a benefit and cost perspective. The fundamentals of the economic approach are described in the following section. 3.3 Full System Economic Account Determining whether an infrastructure investment generates value from a policy perspective - or which choice among a set of options is preferable - should be based on a socioeconomic system account. A full system economic account would incorporate all direct system costs plus external costs on one hand, and all commercial revenues plus societal benefits on the other. This would require giving a full account of total cost beyond what is reported at face value in a profit and loss statement, which means including reported costs plus the external (i.e. non-commercial) costs for emissions, noise, safety risk, land use and other societal impacts. Many times, a railway undertaking incurs costs for track access charges that typically cover marginal cost of infrastructure only, not taking into account the societal costs. In addition, Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 7

14 in the context of European railways, governments are often providing substantial funds (especially for infrastructure finance) "off-balance sheet". For a full system account, however, total costs of infrastructure need to be adopted for the analysis, be they on-balance sheet or off-balance sheet for the infrastructure provider. For a full system economic account of benefits, beyond commercial revenues, there is broad consensus to measure user (i.e. passenger) benefits though travel-time gains and a monetised value of time saved per type of passenger. To be fully comprehensive, regional economic impacts gained from improved travel connections can also be considered, although they are difficult to measure. In comparing different transport modes (rail, road, air), societal costs can either be calculated directly or as relative benefits considering differences in external costs. Most studies agree that the rail mode has lower external costs as compared to other modes such as road or air. In this analysis, the external cost advantage is described as a relative or comparative benefit rather than an absolute one. In Europe, there is no standardised approach developed for measuring the economic benefits and costs for railway infrastructure investment. Based on a review of studies, a case-by-case approach still prevails. The European Commission advocates a comprehensive ("Full System Account") approach and has taken steps to help standardise investment appraisal. TEN-T audits and EU co-funding policy analyses have revealed that there is no agreement on a consistent methodology to assess socioeconomic benefits and award criteria for the selection of projects on the basis of their costs and benefits. In separate studies, the UIC and the EU "HEATCO" project (i.e. Harmonised European Approaches for Transport Costing and Project Assessment) found significant differences in how transport projects were appraised. For the purpose of this study a full account is used for the costs of infrastructure and train operations. Likewise, a full system economic account of benefits is used, which are defined as the total of commercial revenues, external benefits (i.e. external cost advantages) and monetised user benefits stemming from total travel time savings. A sample result for a full system economic account, shown as a cost-benefit ratio, is illustrated in Figure 2. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 8

15 million per year CUP MHS VHS External benefits User benefits Commercial revenues Operations costs Infrastructure Cost Figure 2: Sample Benefit-Cost Analysis Output The following paragraphs provide detailed descriptions of all relevant constituents of the economic appraisal model. 3.4 Principal Benefit and Cost Constituents Overview The benefit-cost ratio of a railway infrastructure investment depends entirely on operational/technical corridor characteristics and on the relevant market size along such a corridor. Infrastructure layout (topography, type of traffic) and the choice of the development options determine infrastructure costs to a large degree. Train operations on the infrastructure need to reflect the speed choice of the infrastructure and match with demand in order to provide adequate frequency of services. Demand is strongly driven by passenger rail market size along the line, but is also a function of the competitiveness of rail services on the route as compared to road and air. The travel time advantage over competing modes is a strong driver of demand ("travel time demand elasticity") as is the relative tariff level for different travel modes ( price demand elasticity ). Both factors affect the modal share in a given corridor. Railway management has an opportunity to actively manage yield with pricing policies either towards higher unit revenues at lower fleet utilisation or vice versa. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 9

16 Figure 3 gives an overview of the main constituents of benefits and costs analysed in this study, and show the major interdependencies between them. Corridor characteristics Passenger rail demand 1 Infrastructure costs 2 Train operations program 3 Commercial revenues 4 User benefits 5 External effects 2 Train operator costs Benefits and Costs Figure 3: Key Model Constituents Each of these constituents is now described with its key characteristics. Corridor characteristics Corridor characteristics that underlie the economic model include both market demand and operational/technical features. Key market demand is driven by the size of the market (population in catchment areas), the population average income, the service offering and relative attractiveness of competing modes, the pricing strategy, the effective travel speed and the typical distance travelled. Important operational/technical features include the chosen design speed with the corresponding requirements for alignment and technical equipment, the topography (with a key factor whether there is the need for costly civil structures) and the system decision between dedicated or mixed traffic purpose. These market demand and operational/technical corridor characteristics set the stage and form the basic input to the system analysis. Passenger Rail Demand A strong market for rail travel is critical to justify the construction of expensive infrastructure and the offering of convenient services frequent enough to attract Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 10

17 passengers from other modes. Figure 4 gives an overview of passenger demand on a sample of high speed rail corridors in Europe. Corridor name Corridor length Passengers per year million Paris Lyon (2008) 409 km 39 Valence Marseille, LGV Med (2004) 250 km 20 Lyon Valence, LGV Rhône-Alpes (2006) 115 km 19 Frankfurt Cologne (2012) 180 km 12 Paris Nord de la France (2002) 333 km 6 Madrid Sevilla (2011) 472 km 3 Madrid Valencia (2011) 391 km 2 Figure 4: Passengers Per Year on Notable High Speed Rail Lines The range of ridership on the sample corridors is wide with some corridors far below 10 million travellers per year, others far above. When a corridor is tied into a larger network, additional passenger demand may be created through network effects (see Laird, Nellthorp and Mackie). One example is the ICE line in Germany between Frankfurt and Cologne. If these two markets were the only ones served by high speed rail, passenger demand would be lower than it currently is. But because the line is also used to serve customers in the Ruhr Region, Munich, Stuttgart and elsewhere, network effects drastically increase demand. Passenger demand for rail is strongly dependent on travel time and price elasticity of demand. Elasticity values measure how sensitive potential passengers are to changes in travel time and price 1. For example, a high speed elasticity of demand would indicate that passengers are relatively willing to switch to rail when travel time is improved. Low price elasticity of demand would indicate, on the other hand, that customers are not sensitive to potential increases in ticket prices, which could be a revenue-generating opportunity for the railway. Many factors, including income in the catchment area, transit connectivity to the railway station and the competitiveness of other modes influ- 1 A reduction of travel time by 1% leading to a 2% increase in demand indicates a travel time elasticity of Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 11

18 ence these elasticities. For example, if airline competition with rail is intense, travel time elasticities need to be relatively high to draw passengers to higher speed rail. Various European studies observe that travel time elasticities typically range between -0,8 and -2,0 for longer-distance rail traffic (see Breimeier, LeBoeuf), but can deviate further from this range. Commercial revenues are generally a direct function of passenger demand. Studies measuring the demand elasticity of higher speed rail systems show that the competitiveness of high speed rail compared against other modes is highest at distances between 300 km and 800 km, which is where the highest elasticities of demand are observed. At distances shorter than 300 km, effective travel time gains are perceived as less relevant by the passenger. At distances above 800 km, air travel tends to maintain its competitive advantage. Figure 5 highlights key ranges where higher speed rail competes well with other modes. Door-to-door journey time in hours High-speed rail fastest High-speed necessary for rail to be fastest High-speed rail Conventional rail Air Distance in km Figure 5: Competitiveness of Rail with Respect to Distance One critical operational parameter for a high speed corridor is the speed yield. The term speed yield refers to the ratio of the effective travel speed to the design speed of a line. Speed yields can decrease, for example, when the corridor is densely populated with many stops. Additionally, if only parts of the rail corridor are designed for VHS speeds, the full potential of the line will not be realised. Higher speed yields also result in improved use of the infrastructure and rolling stock. The French high speed system is one of the best European examples of speed yield maximisation for VHS corridors. Figure 6 shows average speeds, maximum speeds and percentage of tracks where maximum speeds can be reached on several key European VHS corridors. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 12

19 km/h % 67 % 63 % 61 % 67 % 81 % 58 % UK High Speed 1 Rome- Naples Erfurt - Leipzig/Halle Paris- Strasbourg Maximum operating speed Average commercial speed 1) Current speed 300 km/h Sources: Railways' timetables; 2009 analysis % Madrid- Barcelona 1) Speed yield Paris- Marseille Cologne- Rhine/Main Figure 6: Effective Speed Yields on European Corridors In summary, the higher the base demand, travel time elasticity and speed yield, the more benefits will be derived through development of higher speed rail. In some special cases a low price elasticity of demand creates opportunities to charge premium ticket prices without a significant reduction in passenger demand. Train Operations Program and Train Operator Costs The train operations program is defined as the service frequency and capacity on the route to meet demand. The train operations program consists of key input parameters including daily hours of operation, train departures in peak/offpeak periods and turnaround times. These parameters, in addition to reserve factors (e.g. reserve fleet to support train maintenance issues), are used to determine the key resources required, i.e. the number of drivers and total fleet size. Utilisation of capacity is a prime performance measure for commercially efficient rail service. Research for this study shows that some VHS providers operate with a seat utilisation of 70 % and higher, while others run at approximately 50 % seat utilisation. A pivotal route-specific operations decision is the frequency of train departures during the peak travel period, as this has a significant direct impact on the total rolling stock required to handle total peak and offpeak demand. Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 13

20 Train operator costs, which include the capital and operational cost of rolling stock, train operator personnel costs, energy consumption and others, are a direct result of the implemented train operations program. A common misconception is that train operator costs are much higher at higher speeds. In fact, on corridors suitable for very high speed travel (see Figure 7), operations costs of modern and purpose-built trainsets are typically lowest at design speeds between 250 km/h and 300 km/h and only gradually increase at speeds beyond 300 km/h (see Breimeier; Garcia). Additionally, UIC studies have verified that labour costs and rolling stock capital costs decrease with increasing speeds. This is primarily a result of the increased annual train mileage for higher speed trains and their potential for additional trip cycles per day. These costs are then counterbalanced by the cost of increasing energy consumption at very high speeds (particularly at speeds above 300 km/h). High speed trainsets are typically more expensive than conventional trains, but the price per train also varies based on the total quantity ordered, total capacity and train-specific features, among other factors. The analysis is constructed to model individual situations more precisely. Energy costs are also heavily dependent on country and railway-specific energy cost agreements. cent / (m 2 x km) 1,50 1,49 1,45 1,40 1,40 1,35 1,35 1,30 1,33 1,30 1,25 1,20 1,15 1,10 Design speed Source: Dr. Rudolf Breimeier, Transrapid oder Eisenbahn Figure 7: Sample Train Operating Costs of an ICE III Infrastructure Costs The largest cost component when constructing or upgrading rail lines is usually the cost of infrastructure. Infrastructure includes tracks, civil structures (tunnels, bridges and power supply), signalling/train control, electrification and all other related assets. This system analysis covers total cost of infrastructure, i.e. annualised capital costs (depreciation and interest), and maintenance and net- Further Development of the European High Speed Rail Network Page: 14

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